As I look back over the list I compiled, I can’t help but think, this is an odd list! But these writers inspired me through their books in many different ways to bring me along as a writer.
1. Dune by Frank Herbert
I learned a few lessons about the type of writer I did not want to be by reading Dune. It was much too complicated and verbose for me at that stage of life.
2. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Some readers equally find Faulkner’s Fury complicated in another way: the stream of consciousness of the “idiot” family member. But I found it fascinating, more like a puzzle needing to be solved. Faulkner had me reeled in to figure this out.
3. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
This is the only book on this list that I have read several times for the pure joy of it. O’Connor had my emotions at her disposal. I laughed, ridiculed, laughed some more, and then was shocked. In the end I identify too much with the words of the Misfit, “She would have been a good woman had someone been there to shoot her every day of her life.” I too lament those moments of clarity that only occur when bad things happen. Oh for those moments of clarity all the time!
4. All the Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren
Never have I been so drawn in by introspection over identity, but I read Warren’s words as I searched for my own identity and realized how fractured I really am. I especially identified with Jack’s musings about the picnic where he invites all the different versions of himself together at the same time. Would my different identities even recognize each other? he muses. That quote hangs with me to this day.
5. The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
My 12th grade English teacher pulled me aside and told me, “I want you to read these books.” And they consumed me. I could not put them down. I lived and breathed them and wondered how I could have lived 17 years on planet Earth without reading them. They were adventure to me as I lived through Frodo and Bilbo.
6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
If The Hobbit was an inspiration of adventure, Narnia’s tales were pure magic. I used to dream of being taken away to Narnia. I used to remember stepping between floor-to-ceiling supports in our basement and imagined them as a gateway to Narnia. No, imagined is not strong enough. I longed to go to Narnia like Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.
7. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
Heinlein was not just adventure; it was danger. I had a fascination with science fiction and the young hero in Heinlein’s story.
8. The Firm by John Grisham
Never have I read a book so quickly. I still think of it as the page turner that I truly picked up and didn’t put down until I was finished.
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